Taken in the nascent years of color photography, Prokudin-Gorskii’s masterful images reveal the nomadic peoples and oasis settlements at the heart of the Silk Road with striking precision and clarity. A land of ancient oasis towns and sunburnt deserts, Central Asia was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the late nineteenth century.

Abandoning seemingly barren northern regions, Russia expanded into the bountiful south to vie with Great Britain for political control of the heart of Asia. It was appended to Russia by the conquest of the Central Asian khanates at about the same time Alaska was sold to the United States (1867).

This collection of photographs was originally on display at the Russian Museum of Art September 28, 2009 through February 28, 2010.